A student accused of blasphemy: Is it our future?

04 Feb

The assassination of Governor Salman Taseer has left a deep scar on ailing body of moderate voices.  Only a man like Salman could dare to go sympathising with a woman like Aasia Bibi who was accused of unforgivable crime (blasphemy) which is yet to be committed by her. But the heroic treatment received by his assassin has given a boost to all those forces who were already misusing this law. But they are all now fearless and bold enough to fix their personal disputes through such allegations and more openly.

I was wondering how broad the scope is but this latest incident has answered my thoughts. It has reached to the education institutions where students are being accused of blasphemy based on their personal knowledge which they express in exams on their answer sheets. A teacher exposing answer sheets of his students has just not shaken the trust built between a student and teacher, but also has violated all norms of confidentiality. A teacher is just authorised to pass or fail a student for his knowledge but cannot file a case against him and get his student arrested. But it happened here because Pakistan and Pakistanis have shut their minds and killed their basic wisdom when any random person accuses anyone voluntarily of blasphemy.

Have we realised as a nation that what are we proud of? We have pride in a senseless craze for a version of a religion which only helps in victimising minorities now even majority; we feel pleasure in awarding death to weak so that we do not need to return borrowed money or property; and we take revenge from our minorities for all those things which we could not get even being part of the majority. This is a disease which should be treated. Sooner the better. But the delay is taking more lives and ruining the future of this country. Just a good human being knows that all the deeds done for humanity will be rewarded by the one Who has created him.

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
February 1, 2011
PAKISTAN: Education officials of Karachi must be prosecuted for
filing a blasphemy case against a student

A case of blasphemy has been registered against 17-year-old Syed
Samiullah, an intermediate student and resident of Mujtaba Colony
Malir Halt. The charge was registered in the Shahrah-e-Noor Jahan
Police Station, Karachi, Sindh province.

The incident was reported to the police by Professor Agha Akbar, the
controller of examinations of the Intermediate Board of Education,
Karachi, who attached copies of Samiullah’s answers sheets as evidence
of his alleged blasphemy. The professor charged that Samiullah wrote
derogatory remarks in his answer sheets (Urdu, Islamiat and Physics)
against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him).

He was arrested on January 28, 2011 on the complaint of the chief
controller (Intermediate Board).

The Judicial Magistrate, Central, Ehsan A Malik ordered Samiullah to
be sent to the juvenile prison after the Shahrae Noor Jehan police
produced him in court and requested judicial custody. In an
application to the judicial magistrate, Samiullah submitted that he
had confessed to committing the ‘unpardonable sin’. He apologised and
promised that he would never commit ‘such a sin’ again. An FIR (First
Information Report) (56/11) was registered against him under 295-C of
the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) at Shahrah-e-Noor Jahan police station.

In Pakistan militant Muslim organisations are using the blasphemy law
as the best way to keep the society under their influence and
conservative doctrines. Due to the continuous indifference of the
government and the authorities towards militant expression of power by
the Muslim fundamentalists the malicious use of the blasphemy law has
swiftly seeped in to the educational institutions.

The appeasement policy of the state towards the Muslim
fundamentalists has now reached an alarming stage in that the opinion
of the students can be judged using blasphemy as the rule. It is
condemnable that the institutions which are aimed at providing
education free of bias are obstructing the freedom of expression of
the students. It is a very dangerous sign for the positive growth of
the society that the teachers are also using the blasphemy law to
pressurize the students and suppress their opinions.

This is also a clear demonstration of intimidation aimed at the
student community in regard of their freedom of choice to answer
examination papers through their own understanding of the subject. The
student, Samiullah, and his family, were pressurised by the malicious
intent by the Board of Education, Karachi to confess that he had
committed blasphemy. Samiullah had no other choice other than to
confess after seeing the murder of a governor due to the fake charges
of blasphemy and the glorification of his murderer by the religious

Examiners only have the right to pass or fail students based on the
answers they give to the exam papers. They have not right what-so-ever
to grade, fail or take action on exam papers which they feel are
contrary to their religious ideals. Neither do they have the right to
instigate criminal action against students based on these papers or
against the student’s point of view or opinions.

In this instance, the Board of Education is using the blasphemy law
to intimidate and threaten a student for daring to form his own
opinions. By filing a criminal case the officials of the Education
Board are trying to control the mentality of the society and push the
students towards the Militant Muslim organisations. They are utilising
the people to think in this way, that if someone commits such a crime,
he should be killed.

In a country where the literacy rate is below 40 percent (that
includes those persons who can read or write their names and make
signatures) the filing of fake cases of blasphemy against students to
stop them from expressing their own views is nothing less than a
criminal offence on the part of those who are supposed to be providing
education to the society.

It is also an established fact that the examination copy on which a
student answers the questions on a particular subject based on his
personal knowledge, is confidential and no one has the right to make
it public or use it to file a case. In a very explicit manner the
Board of Education has breached the bond of trust and confidentiality
between the students and examiners.

The government must take serious note of the actions of the Board of
Education, Karachi, and prosecute the responsible officials for
misusing the blasphemy laws against a student on a issue which was
totally a matter of opinion on the subject which he understood
according to his knowledge. The case of blasphemy against the student
should be withdrawn immediately and he should be released from the
custody of the juvenile jail so that he can continue his education in
an environment free of intimidation and threats. In any case it is the
responsibility of the government to provide an environment conducive
to education free of religious and sectarian bias.

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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Blasphemy


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